Sure, creating freakish humanoid clones
is Hiroshi Ishiguro's primary hobby, but his latest work takes a couple steps outside the Uncanny Valley. The Telenoid R1 telepresence robot trades extremities for an androgynous doll-like body, which researchers at Osaka University and ATR describe as "soft and pleasant" but strikes us as something we'd see crawling out of the depths of hell on stump-like arms. (Perhaps Ishiguro was going for Casper the Friendly Ghost
.) The $35,000 prototype transmits both the voice and head motions of a remote operator, allowing dutiful Japanese individuals to visit their elders via internet-equipped PCs, and a final version will actually go on sale later this year for around $8,000 should said elders agree with the latest in puffy white design
. Watch a sample visit after the break.